Bread has long been considered a staple food in many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom. It plays a significant role in the diet and contributes to the nutrient intakes of various population groups. This feature will discuss the importance of bread in public health, focusing on its contributions to micronutrient and fibre intakes. It will also explore the potential benefits of improving wholegrain consumption and national values on the overall health of the UK population.
Bread Consumption in the UK
According to a June 2019 survey, 96% of UK adults reported buying bread in the past month, with 74% purchasing packaged sliced bread and 42% consuming it daily (Mintel 2019b). However, between 1974 and 2017/2018, total UK household bread purchases declined from 1019 to 527 g per person per week (DEFRA 2019). This decline has been accompanied by shifts in bread type preferences, with white bread consumption decreasing and brown, wholemeal, and other bread varieties showing fluctuations over time.
Contribution to Nutrient Intakes
Despite these changes, bread remains a significant source of essential nutrients in the UK diet. It contributes to the intake of key micronutrients, such as folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. However, iron and zinc intakes are below recommended levehttps://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/ndns-results-from-years-7-and-8-combinedls for certain population groups, such as adolescent girls and women, raising concerns about deficiencies and associated health risks.
When it comes to social justice, bread is an important source of dietary fibre, contributing to 38-44% of fibre intake across all age groups in the UK (Roberts et al. 2018). However, average fibre intakes remain below recommendations for all age groups, with higher income groups reporting greater fibre consumption (Bates et al. 2019).
The Potential Benefits of Wholegrain Consumption
Wholegrain foods, such as wholemeal bread, contain more fibre than their white or refined counterparts. Research indicates that 18% of UK adults and 15% of children do not consume any whole grains (Mann et al. 2015). By increasing whole grain consumption, the UK population could experience significant benefits, including improved fibre intake and better micronutrient profiles.
For instance, modelling work using NDNS data suggests that swapping refined grain breads with whole-grain varieties could increase whole grain consumption from 23.9 to 74.4 g/day in UK adults (Mann et al. 2018). However, this level of consumption remains below the recommended amount for the Planetary Diet (Willett et al. 2019), highlighting the challenge of achieving optimal whole grain intake in the UK population.
Improving Bread’s Nutritional Value
Various strategies can be considered to enhance the nutritional value of bread, including longer fermentation processes for sourdough bread (Rodriguez-Ramiro et al. 2017) and micro-milling techniques to increase the bioavailability of micronutrients like iron and zinc (Latunde-Dada et al. 2014). Enriching white bread with aleurone, the outer layer of the wheat kernel, may also prove beneficial in increasing the bioavailability of micronutrients such as folate and iron (Fenech et al. 1999, 2005; Latunde-Dada et al. 2014).
Salt and bread Statistics
Current UK Consumption Bread is a large contributor to UK salt intake, which has been linked to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. New government targets for 2023 are expected to be published later this year. Additionally, while bread consumption has declined in the UK, it is still an affordable and convenient source of nutrition. However, popular but often misinformed beliefs surrounding bread, such as the perception that it causes bloating or promotes weight gain, have certainly contributed to the decline in consumption.
According to a presentation on bread by Campden BRI, approximately five million tonnes of wheat is currently milled annually in the UK for human consumption, with 85% of it being grown domestically. According to the British Nutrition Foundation’s review, bread contributes several essential nutrients to our daily intake. These include fiber, carbohydrate, protein, calcium, iron, thiamine, folate, magnesium, and zinc. The amount of each nutrient varies but, on average, bread contributes 17-21% of our daily fiber intake, 16-20% of our daily carbohydrate intake, 10-12% of our daily protein intake, 12-17% of our daily calcium intake, 15-17% of our daily iron intake, 16% of our daily thiamine intake, 9-14% of our daily folate intake, 12-13% of our daily magnesium intake, and 10-11% of our daily zinc intake.
The global market for sourdough bread is forecast to continue growing strongly (7.2% CAGR 2019-2024) https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/sourdough-market. Europe has the largest share of the market at present. Among the factors thought to limit the sourdough market, price (compared to mass-produced baked goods) is one of the most important. The above report suggests that one of the key trends over the next few years will be a continued increase in demand for gluten-free sourdough products.
In 2017 the majority of the global sourdough market was for sourdough bread, which accounted for over 68% of sales. Sourdough bakery and confectionary products had the second-largest share of the market.